With each passing year, the Colts’ window of opportunity draws a little closer to shut. As long as No. 18 is upright and effective they will be a contender, but he will turn 34 in March.

Peyton Manning could very well get another shot at a Lombardi Trophy, but the Colts have some notable deficiencies.

Peyton Manning and company certainly want another ring before this era comes to a close, and it appears next year will they will have as good a chance as any.

With the Gary Brackett deal finalized, the Colts will likely return all 22 starters from Super Bowl XLIV.

While two notable components may depart – the often injured Marlin Jackson and Tyjuan Hagler – two key parts return from injury in Bob Sanders and Anthony Gonzalez.

Sanders – defensive player of the year in 2007 – can make a big difference defensively should he stay healthy and Gonzalez was very productive in his first two seasons before missing 2009 to injury.

The Colts should benefit from their young players getting plenty of experience. Rookies Austin Collie, Jacob Lacey, Jerraud Powers, Donald Brown and Pat McAfee and second-year man Pierre Garcon – a rookie for all intensive purposes – should all take another step forward.

However, the Colts have plenty of areas for improvement beginning with the coaching staff. Jim Caldwell had rookie coach written all over him during the Super Bowl and the loss of Howard Mudd will take a toll.

The offensive line played well last season, overachieving under Mudd, but it needs work. And as always, it needs bulk – can you think of a single instance the Colts converted on a third or fourth-and-1 by running the football?

Tony Ugoh and Mike Pollak will have to prove their worth for the unit to improve. So far they look like busts.

Depth at the defensive end position is also a concern. Dwight Freeney (30) and Robert Mathis (29) aren’t getting any younger and have battled injury over the years. There isn’t a ton of depth behind them to speak of.

With Marlin Jackson hitting the open market and Tim Jennings likely on his way out, the Colts’ secondary also needs some work and Powers and Lacey must grow up in a hurry.

Any help the Colts get will have to come from the draft, as the uncapped year won’t allow them to be a player in the free agent market.

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